Miso Soup (Miso-shiru)

Seafood, Soups & Stews, Tofu, Vegetables
Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Makes 4 servings

Miso has such a magical, enlivening taste. This soup, made with the simplest stock (dashi) and seasonal ingredients, is a refreshing purifier for the spring.

Prepare the Dashi

Dashi is best served the day it’s made, so only make what you’ll consume. If you have leftovers, keep it in the fridge for a few days, or turn it into a dipping sauce (e.g. tsuyu or tsukejiru [best when aging the dashi for a few days]).

  • 4 1/4 cups cold water + 1/4 cup cold water
  • 30 g. konbu (giant kelp; about 6 4-inch strips)
  • 30 g. katsuobushi (shaved bonito flakes; about 3 handfuls)
Bonito flakes + konbu

Bonito flakes + konbu

In a small stock pot, combine the cold water and konbu. Heat the water over medium/medium-high heat, so that in about 10 minutes it comes to a boil. Remove the konbu and reserve for another use. Do not boil the konbu as the taste will change and become too intense.

Bring the konbu stock to a boil, add 1/4 cup cold water to prevent boiling, then stir in the bonito flakes, and bring to a boil again. Immediately remove from heat.  As the flakes fall, let the dashi sit 2-3 minutes. Skim off any foam. Strain out the bonito, reserving for later use.

Strained dashi

Strained dashi

(You can make a second batch of dashi, to be paired with more intensely flavored things like soy sauce, sake or vinegar, or you could use the bonito flakes separately for something else, and the konbu you can keep for another stock.)

Arranging the Soup

  • 120 grams firm tofu, chopped into 1/3-inch cubes (about 1-1/2 cup)
  • 10 grams dried morel mushrooms (or shiitake) (about 2/3 cup)
  • 4 grams wakame (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 3-1/2 – 4 Tbsp. miso (red; if using white, use a bit more)
  • 3 grams green onion, sliced on the bias
Cubed tofu, dried morel mushrooms, dried wakame, green onions

Cubed tofu, dried morel mushrooms, dried wakame, green onions

I used the morels because they grow wildly where I live. Plus they have been sitting in my cupboard since last spring, awaiting use. You could equally use dried shiitakes or another mushroom. If using fresh, adjust quantity to your taste. And, by the way, adjust every quantity to your taste. I like my miso soup brothy yet substantial, hence the heftier amounts.

Return the dashi to the stock pot. Drop in the dried mushrooms and tofu. Bring to a bare-boil, so that bubbles form at the bottom. Meanwhile, mix a bit of the warm dashi with the miso. Never add miso straight to the soup. Mixing prevents clumping.

Miso Soup 04

Miso by itself and miso mixed with the dashi

After about 10 minutes of the ingredients warming in the dashi, add the wakame. Keep the temperature barely below boil. Steam should be rising from the whole surface. Once the wakame has bloomed, stir in the miso. Remove from heat and serve immediately in a tiny bowl with green onion. The steam should not cease as it ought to be eaten quite hot.

And, please, slurp loudly.

Miso soup with green onion

Miso soup with green onion

3 thoughts on “Miso Soup (Miso-shiru)

  1. Mmmm…this is one of those things I make regularly. Sooooo good. Although I don’t use bonito flakes – should I?

    1. Hi Diana!

      The soup could easily stand alone using only a konbu dashi. Not only does it remain entirely vegetarian, but the minerals and amino acids (especially the glutamic acid) in the kelp provide a subtle yet flavorful umami base to it.

      However, the traditional addition of the bonito is worth exploring if your diet allows it. Katsuobushi (the bonito) has been likened in Japanese cooking to veal or beef stock in French cooking.

      Inside those little flakes is an enormous spectrum of flavors produced by two factors: the inherent properties of the fish and the manufacturing of it.

      Bonito itself is full of savory amino acids and minerals. In addition, the smoking process of the fish produces a beautiful pungency that you will smell immediately after opening the bag. The boiling or steaming of the fish, done to pack the fish into tight logs, as well as the drying, produces more meaty aromas. Finally, having been inoculated with mold (for fermenting), you get something similar to a well-aged cheese: fruity and floral notes.

      If you want to give it a go, I recommend preparing your dashi with the konbu. Before adding the bonito, give it a taste. It should be a familiar one. Then add the bonito and taste the depth you’ve added to it.

      Let me know what you think!


  2. Wow – thanks for the (very informative) reply! I will find myself some bonito (there’s a Japanese supermarket in my area) and give this a try. Thanks again, Brian!

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